As demonstrated by TESTAMENT’s Chuck Billy, it is possible to make a strong comeback from cancer and resume a successful career. Thankfully, BEHEMOTH’s Nergal has followed suit and returned to form. The Satanist is the sound of a band ready to resume their upward trajectory in the metal world.
The album takes a new approach to that of the fist-in-the-face attack of albums past. This one is about “feel” and atmosphere rather than simply pummeling the listener. But it still sounds 100% like BEHEMOTH. They call more upon their black metal beginnings than ever in sound and style. The Satanist is perhaps the band’s most dynamically rich work to date because of all the various song parts. Horns, synthesizers, and choirs help to add flavor. Most of the songs have a mid-tempo foundation with plenty of clean electric guitars, and fast parts here and there. However, the action never feels slow per se. Thematically, there are tons of references to the bible as well as, you guessed it, Satan.
Opener, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel,” sets the tone with its blackened ritualistic atmospheres and predominantly mid-tempo pace. Second track, “Furor Divinus,” starts out like the MAYHEM classic, “Funeral Fog.” “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” is The Satanist’s catchiest track with its simple, straight forward structure that just glides forward. A song like “Amen” demonstrates their growth as there is a quiet, dark interlude in the middle of the blasting fury. The same could be said of “In the Absence ov Light.” “O Father O Satan O Sun!” is one hell of a closer and is the album’s most powerful track.
All in all, The Satanist is a good album. Does it break barriers or is a game changer? No, but it is a step forward in growth for BEHEMOTH. And moving forward is paramount. (Metal Blade Records/Nuclear Blast Records)